Keep Your SOX Clean!
There are three sections that directly affect a company's IT management:
Sec. 802(a) "Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
This rule is rigidly enforced, as the frantic document shredding that went on at Enron added years to the investigation.
Sec. 802(a)(1) "Any accountant who conducts an audit of an issuer of securities to which section 10A(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C 78j-1(a)) applies, shall maintain all audit or review workpapers for a period of 5 years from the end of the fiscal period in which the audit or review was concluded."
Anything related to financial records and audits must be stored, accessible and unaltered for the full five-year period. This covers electronic documents as well.
Sec. 802(a)(2) "The Securities and Exchange Commission shall promulgate, within 180 days, such rules and regulations, as are reasonably necessary, relating to the retention of relevant records such as workpapers, documents that form the basis of an audit or review, memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records) which are created, sent, or received in connection with an audit or review and contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data relating to such an audit or review."
So essentially, every document, physical or electronic, must be maintained, stored and accessible for five years. Anyone who has ever upgraded their office software, or even stored electronic documents over time knows that they can either degrade, or will not be compatible with newer versions of the software.